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Collins to Judge NFL 1st & Future

By NFL Communications / Georgia Tech Institute Communications

Georgia Tech Football Coach Geoff Collins and Keith Werle, managing director of the Business Analytics Center in the Scheller College of Business, are among the judges for the National Football League’s annual Super Bowl competition designed to spur innovation in athlete safety and performance.

Collins and Werle are among the eight judges that the NFL has selected for the 1st and Future event. The league has also tabbed finalists for the competition.

Georgia Tech is hosting the Feb. 2 event on campus. Although admission is by invitation only, NFL Network will livestream the full competition on More than 100 Georgia Tech faculty, along with student winners from the recent Georgia Tech Sports Innovation Challenge hackathon, were among those invited.

During the program, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Atlanta Falcons President and CEO and NFL Competition Committee Chairman Rich McKay will participate in a panel discussion on leveraging the latest technology to modernize the game moderated by Scott Hanson of NFL Network and host of NFL RedZone. Hanson will also emcee the pitch competition.

Finalists will compete in two categories — the NFL Punt Analytics Competition, featuring data-driven proposals for rule changes designed to reduce player injury during punt plays, and the Innovations to Advance Athlete Health and Safety Competition, highlighting innovative product concepts that aim to improve player health and safety. All finalists will present in front of a panel of judges.

Four finalists from the NFL Punt Analytics Competition will be awarded $20,000 and will compete to win Super Bowl LIII tickets. Five finalists from the Innovations to Advance Athlete Health and Safety competition will compete for a grand prize of $50,000 and two tickets to Super Bowl LIII. The second-place winner will receive $20,000 and two tickets to Super Bowl LIII.

Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) managed the submissions for the athlete health and safety competition. ATDC is also serving as a home base for the competing finalists during the week prior to the competition, which is presented by Arrow Electronics.

One of the health and safety finalists, TendoNova, was founded by four Georgia Tech graduates.

Research institutions such as Georgia Tech are already key players in efforts to prevent athletic injuries and shorten recovery time once an injury does occur, President G.P. “Bud” Peterson said in a message about the competition.

Lessons learned from research also have application in other fields, such as pediatric medicine and our military’s efforts to keep service members safe and healthy, he said.

“Yellow Jacket fans love our sports teams, and the opportunity to partner with the NFL to advance collaborative innovation in athletics, particularly around safety and performance, is one we wholeheartedly endorse,” Peterson said. “1st and Future’s innovative spirit dovetails with the energy that propels Georgia Tech’s robust startup culture and spurs the entrepreneurial drive for which the Institute is well known.”


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